A summary of the collective bargaining history between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association.
5 years (2017-21)
- Nov. 30, 2016 – Owners and players reach preliminary agreement for new CBA, the first time they have come to terms on a new labor deal before expiration of the current contract and largely out of the media spotlight.
- Dec. __, 2016 – Owners ratify the agreement.
- Dec. __, 2016 – Players ratify the agreement.
Major League Baseball: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred.
MLB Players Association: Executive Director Tony Clark.
Term: 2017 – December, 2021.
Minimum Salary: .
Rosters: Existing rules remain in place, with 25-man active rosters on Opening Day (and 26 active players for day-night doubleheaders scheduled with at least a day’s notice), expanding to 40 players on Sept. 1 of each season.
Free Agency: Existing compensation rules for clubs losing a free agent remain in place for 2016-17 off-season.
Salary Arbitration: .
Competitive Balance Tax: The Competitive Balance “luxury” tax threshold on payrolls will increase from $189 million to $195 million for 2017, $197 million in 2018, then increase during the life of the agreement to $210 million in 2021. Tax rates for clubs exceeding the threshold are increased.
Revenue Sharing: .
Prohibited Substances: .
Rule 4 Amateur Draft: .
International Signings: New limits placed on number of international signings a club may make each year.
5 years (2012-16)
Nov. 23, 2011 – Players and owners reach a new labor agreement with provisions expanding the playoffs to 10 teams and implementing blood testing on human growth hormone.
Major League Baseball: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. Executive VP of Economics and League Affairs Rob Manfred.
MLB Players Association: Executive Director Michael Weiner. Director of Player Relations Tony Clark. Player representatives Craig Counsell, Doug Davis, Andrew Miller.
Term: 2012 – December, 2016.
Minimum Salary: The minimum salary increases to $480,000 in 2012, $490,000 in 2013 and $500,000 in 2014, with cost-of-living increases in 2015 and 2016. (Minimum salaries for 2015-16 increased to $507,500.)
Expanded Playoffs: Starting with the 2012 season, a second wild-card team is added in each league, with those clubs meeting in a one-game Wild Card game to qualify for the Division Series.
Realignment: The Houston Astros will move from the NL Central to AL West in 2013, leaving each league with three five-team divisions.
Rosters: Clubs may expand rosters to 26 active players for day-night doubleheaders scheduled with at least a day’s notice.
Salary Arbitration: The group of players with 2-3 years of major league service who are eligible for salary arbitration increases from 17 percent to 22 percent starting in 2013.
Competitive Balance Tax: The Competitive Balance “luxury” tax threshhold on payrolls will stay at $178 million for 2012 and 2013, then increase to $189 million for 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Revenue Sharing: A club receiving revenue-sharing proceeds may not use the money to pay down club debt and must comply with rule requiring payroll for its 40-man roster to be at least 25 percent larger than the amount it receives. By the end of the agreement in 2016, clubs in the 15 largest markets will no longer be allowed to receive revenue-sharing proceeds, regardless of local revenues, TV contracts or attendance figures. (The 15 clubs ineligible for revenue sharing by 2016 are the NY Yankees, NY Mets, LA Dodgers, LA Angels, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros, San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics.) The A’s remain eligible to receive revenue sharing proceeds until their stadium situation is resolved.
Prohibited Substances: The Joint Drug Agreement is expanded to include blood testing on human growth hormone. Additionally, restrictions on smokeless tobacco are implemented.
Rule 4 Amateur Draft: The draft is reduced from 50 to 40 rounds. A club holds exclusive negotiating rights with a drafted player until mid-July (between July 12 and July 18, depending on the date of the All-Star Game). Clubs are deemed to have automatically offered each draft pick a minor-league contract with no signing bonus. Rule 4 draftees may not sign Major League contracts, eliminating multi-year contracts with signing bonuses spread over the life of the deal. An exception remains for multi-sport athletes. Before the draft, each club is assigned an aggregate Signing Bonus Pool, consisting of the total of the sum of the designated signing bonuses for their picks in the first 10 rounds. A club signing a player for an amount less than his assigned value may reallocate the difference between his bonus and the value of his choice. If a club fails to sign a player in the first 10 rounds, its spending Pool is reduced by the assigned value of his pick. Players selected after the 10th round do not count against a club’s Pool if they sign for a bonus less than $100,000. Any bonus of $100,000 or more counts against a club’s Pool. The Pool amount for each club takes into account any additional selections a club obtains in a trade, as compensation for losing a free agent, for failure to sign a drafted player from the previous year’s draft, and through the Competitive Balance or Forfeited Draft Pick Lotteries. Any side agreement or attempt to circumvent the draft spending rules is prohibited. A club exceeding its Signing Bonus Pool must pay a tax of 75 or 100 percent on the overage or may forfeit future draft picks, which are distributed to other clubs through a lottery. The 10 teams with the lowest revenues and the 10 teams in the smallest markets may receive additional selections in a Competitive Balance Lottery for the six draft picks after the end of the first round and the six draft picks after the end of the second round. A club receiving a Competitive Balance Lottery draft pick has the right to trade the pick to another club. However, lottery picks may be dealt only by the original club holding the choice, and they may not be exchanged for cash, unless the cash offsets salary of another player in the trade, subject to MLB approval. Lottery-pick trades are permitted only during the regular season. All other draft picks remain un-tradable.
International Signings: Foreign-born players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, Panama, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia and other countries are free agents. They may sign with any of the 30 Major League clubs during the international signing period, which begins July 2. To be eligible to sign a contract, a player must be 16 years old at the time of signing and turn 17 years old by either 1) September 1 or 2) the end of his first professional season, whichever is later. Players also must register with the MLB Scouting Bureau. Players are not subject to the rules for international Signing Bonus Pools if they are at least 23 years old and come from leagues deemed to be professional, such as Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Cuba. Each club is assigned an aggregate international Signing Bonus Pool, with pool amounts divided into bonus slots. Beginning with the 2013-14 international signing period (July 2, 2013 – June 15, 2014), a club may trade a portion of its international Signing Bonus Pool. However, no club will be allowed to increase its international bonus pool by more than 50 percent. A club exceeding its international Signing Bonus Pool by 0-5 percent pays a 75-percent tax on the overage. Penalties then increase, with a 75-percent tax and the loss the the right to pay more than one player in the next signing period a bonus of more than $500,000 for a 5-10 percent overage, a 100-percent tax and the loss of the right to pay any player in the next signing period a bonus of more than $500,000 for a 10-15 percent overage, and a 100-percent tax and the loss of the right to pay any player in the next signing period a bonus of more than $250,000. Penalties may increase for the 2014-15 signing period if an international draft is not in place for July 2014.
5 years (2007-11)
- Oct. 24, 2006 – Owners and players reach preliminary agreement for new CBA, the first time they have come to terms on a new labor deal before expiration of the current contract and largely out of the media spotlight.
- Nov. 3, 2006 – Owners unanimously ratify the agreement.
- Dec. 7, 2006 – Players ratify agreement at annual board meeting.
Major League Baseball: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. COO Bob DuPuy. Executive VP of Economics and League Affairs Rob Manfred. Club representatives Larry Dolan, Peter Angelos, Andy MacPhail.
MLB Players Association: Executive Director Donald Fehr. General Counsel Gene Orza. Player representatives Tony Clark, Mark Loretta, Craig Counsell, Ray King, Mike Myers, Mark Teixeira, Rich Aurilia, Chris Capuano.
Term: 2007 – Dec. 11, 2011.
Free Agency: The agreement eliminates the restriction requiring teams to re-sign a former player who became free agent by Dec. 7 (or Jan. 8 if offered salary arbitration) or else lose his rights until May 1. Deadline for clubs to offer salary arbitration to their former players who became free agents is moved to Dec. 1 from Dec. 7. The deadline for players offered arbitration to accept offers is moved to Dec. 7 from Dec. 19.
Free Agent Compensation: Draft-pick compensation for losing Type C free agents is eliminated. Compensation for Type B free agents is changed from direct (losing draft picks) to indirect (sandwich picks). Starting in 2007, Type A free agent redefined to top 20 percent at position (from top 30 percent) and Type B to 21-40 percent (from top 31-50 percent).
Salary Arbitration: Eligibility and procedure are unchanged.
Testing for Prohibited Substances: The Joint Drug Agreement is rolled into the Basic Agreement so it may be negotiated on the same track as other labor issues. It provides for 50-, 100-game or lifetime suspensions for positive steroid tests, with lesser penalties for amphetamine tests and stricter penalties for amphetamine or steroid distribution. Players suspended for life may apply for reinstatement by the Commissioner after two years and have the right to have an independent arbitrator review the Commissioner’s decision.
Minimum Salary: Major League minimum increases from $327,000 in 2006 to $380,000 in 2007, $390,000 in 2008, $400,000 in 2009 and $400,000 plus a two-year cost-of-living adjustment in 2011. Minor league rate for players with split contracts appearing on a 40-man roster for two or more years: $60,000 in 2007, $62,500 in 2008, and $65,000 in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Players appearing on 40-man roster for the first time must receive 50 percent of minor league minimum.
Rule 4 Amateur Draft: Players selected in the June amateur draft who are not college seniors must sign by Aug. 15. Teams that do not sign first- or second-round draft picks receive the same pick in the next draft as compensation. Clubs that don’t sign a third-round pick receive a sandwich pick between the third and fourth rounds.
Rule 5 Draft: Teams will have five years (four years if player was signed before 18th birthday) before they must put a player on 40-man roster or risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft, an increase from four years (three years if player was signed before 18th birthday). The time clock begins to run on the day a player signs, not the season he starts play.
Revenue Sharing: Marginal tax rates are reduced because of use of new central fund redistribution, with high-revenue team rate dropping from 40 percent to 31 percent and low-revenue team rate dropping from 48 percent to 31 percent. The new transfer will remain the same as the previous agreement ($326 million in 2006). There are modifications to the provision requiring teams to spend revenue-sharing money received to improve on-field performance.
Competitive Balance Tax: Thresholds for luxury tax on team payrolls: $148 million for 2007, $155 million for 2008, $162 million in 2009, $170 million in 2010 and $178 million in 2001. Tax rates on amount over threshold remain at 22.5 percent for first time over threshold, 30 percent for second time over threshold, and 40 percent for third or subsequent time over threshold. Teams that pay at a 40 percent rate in 2006 will pay at a 40 percent rate in 2007. Payrolls are for 40-man rosters and include averages of multiyear contracts; health and pension benefits; clubs medical costs; insurance; workman’s compensation, payroll, unemployment and Social Security taxes; spring training allowances; meal and tip money; All-Star game expenses; travel and moving expenses; postseason pay; and college scholarships.
Tender Deadline: The deadline for clubs to offer contracts for the next season to unsigned players on 40-man rosters is moved from Dec. 20 to Dec. 12.
Commissioner’s Discretionary Fund: A total of $10 million is taken from the central fund and may be redistributed by the commissioner, with a cap of $3 million per club per year.
Trade Demands: Provision allowing players traded during multiyear contracts to file trade demand during 15 days after the World Series is eliminated for new multi-year contracts. Right to demand trade remains for players who signed multi-year deals before ratification of the 2007-11 CBA.
Benefits: The clubs’ contribution will average $154.5 million annually, with benefits at the IRS maximum. Benefits for some retired players improved.
Collusion: Without an admission of guilt, owners agree to pay $12 million to settle potential claims that management might have conspired against free agents after the 2002 and 2003 seasons. Proceeds for the settlement will come from the approximately $25 million in unspent funds collected from the luxury tax from 2003-6 that previously had been designated for player benefits.
4 years (2003-06)
Aug. 30, 2002 – Players and owners reach preliminary agreement on a new labor contract hours before scheduled strike date. The agreement is baseball’s first labor deal reached without a work stoppage and the first to include random testing for steroids.
Major League Baseball: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. COO Bob DuPuy. Executive VP of Economics and League Affairs Rob Manfred.
MLB Players Association: Executive Director Donald Fehr. General Counsel Gene Orza. Player representatives Rick Helling (AL), Tom Glavine (NL), Paul Abbott, Rich Aurilia, Aaron Boone, Tony Clark, Craig Counsell, Johnny Damon, Ryan Drese, Damion Easley, John Flaherty, Joe Girardi, Doug Glanville, Jason Grimsley, Denny Hocking, Kevin Jarvis, Charles Johnson, Jason Johnson, Ray King, Steve Kline, Al Leiter, Jeff Liefer, Paul Lo Duca, Mark Loretta, Mike Myers, Russ Ortiz, Mike Remlinger, Brian Schneider, Scott Schoeneweis, Mike Stanton, Blake Stein, B.J. Surhoff, Vernon Wells, Kevin Young, Gregg Zaun, Todd Zeile, Jeff Zimmerman, Barry Zito.
Term: 2002 – December 19, 2006. The termination date is changed from Oct. 31 (or two days after the World Series ends in 1997-2001 agreement) to Dec. 19 in the new agreement.
Contraction: Tabled for duration of agreement (until Dec. 19, 2006), with owners free to unilaterally contract clubs at the start of the next agreement. Players’ contraction-related grievance, filed Nov. 2001, is settled. The clubs may elect to eliminate two teams for the 2007 season, but must notify players by July 1, 2006. If the clubs elect to contract for 2007, the players’ association may not contest before the National Labor Relations Board that contraction is a mandatory subject of bargaining. If clubs elect to eliminate teams they do not have to identify them at that time.
Revenue Sharing: $258 million each year, phased in over four years. Base figure of $175 billion is distributed to each club on a straight-pool basis. The remainder is split by the Commissioner out of the central fund and discretionary fund, phasing in at $230 million in 2003, $243 million in 2004, $258 in 2005, $301 million in 2006.
Competitive Balance Tax: Clubs whose payrolls exceed set thresholds are taxed on the portions above the thresholds, with the money to be used for player benefits, the industry growth fund or developing baseball players in countries without organized high school baseball. Thresholds: $117 million in 2003, $120.5 million in 2004, $128 million in 2005 and $136.5 million in 2006. The tax rate for clubs penalized for the first time is 17.5 percent throughout the agreement with second-timers penalized as high as 40 percent. Luxury taxes expire on the final day of the 2006 season, meaning that if the sides play under the status quo in 2007, there would be no tax.
Minimum Salary: The minimum salary is increased from $200,000 in 2002 to $300,000 in 2003 and 2004, and $316,000 (after cost-of-living increase) in 2005. Players with split contracts in the minors increase from $40,500 in 2002 to $50,000 in 2003 and 2004, and $52,500 in 2005.
Salary Arbitration: Eligibility unchanged from the 1997-2001 CBA. Any player with three years of service and less than six years of service may file. The top 17 percent of players with two-plus years of service also qualify.
Free Agency: Eligibility remains at six years of Major League service time, unchanged from the 1997-2001 CBA.
Waivers: Each year will be divided into four waiver periods instead of three: Nov. 11 to Feb. 15, Feb. 16 to day 30 of the season, day 31 to July 31, and Aug. 1 to Nov. 10. (Previously, the year consisted of three waiver periods: Nov. 11 to day 30 of the season, day 31 to July 31, and Aug. 1 to Nov. 10.
Rule 4 Amateur Draft: June amateur draft remains unchanged, with provision to discuss worldwide draft during the new agreement.
Schedule: Continued inter-league play is approved for the duration of the agreement.
Expense Money: Spring training and in-season allowances are increased at the rate of the Consumer Price Index.
Contract Tenders: All contract tenders to unsigned players on 40-man rosters will be made by the commissioner’s office instead of individual teams.
Injury Rehabilitation: Players with less than five years of major league service may be directed for no more than 20 days to undergo baseball-related rehabilitation at a club’s spring training facility. However, starting with the 11th day, each day at the spring training site would be deducted from the limit on a rehabilitation assignment to the minor leagues for the player, currently a maximum of 30 days for pitchers and 20 days for others.
Debt: A club may not have more debt than 10 times EBIDTA (earnings before interest, depreciation, taxes and amortization), except that a team that has moved into a newly constructed ballpark within the past 10 years may not have more debt than 15 times EBIDTA. There will be a three-year grace period, during which the commissioner has the right to retain the debt service rule, fully implemented. If he so elects, the commissioner must revoke the 60-40 assets-to-debt ratio rule. If he doesn’t want to revoke the 60-40 rule, the debt-service rule becomes fully implemented.
Commissioner’s Discretionary Fund: A total of $10 million ($333,333 from each club) is taken from the central fund and may be redistributed by the commissioner.
Prohibited Substances: Under a Joint Drug Agreement, testing for “Schedule III” anabolic androgenic steroids only. No testing for recreational or over-the-counter drugs. All players are randomly tested for illegal steroids in 2003 as a “survey.” If 5 percent or more test positive in any survey year, mandatory random testing for illegal steroids is implemented for 2004 and 2005. If 2.5 percent or fewer test positive in consecutive years, mandatory random testing is stopped. In any year in which there is not mandatory random testing, players will be tested on a survey basis. The first time a player tests positive during mandatory random testing, he is placed in a treatment program. For subsequent positive tests, penalties range from a 30-day suspension to a two-year suspension. (JDA was re-opened and strengthened in 2004 and 2005.).
Pension: Owners agree to contribute $114 million-$115 million annually, an increase from $70 million in 2002.
4 years (1997-2000), 2001 option
- Nov. 6, 1996 – Owners vote 18-12 to reject agreement reached in October between their chief negotiator, Randy Levine, and Donald Fehr, the executive director of the players’ association.
- Nov. 27, 1996 – Owners vote 26-4 to approve new Basic Agreement.
- March 14, 1997 – Owners and players formally agree to a contract through the 2000 season with a union option to extend it through 2001. The new Basic Agreement provides for a significant increase in revenue sharing and a luxury tax on the five highest-payroll teams from 1997 to 1999.
- October 28, 1998 – President Clinton signs Curt Flood Act, revoking baseball’s antitrust exemption for labor matters, but not for matters involving relocation, expansion or the minor leagues.
Major League Baseball: acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. Player Relations Committee chief Randy Levine.
MLB Players Association: Executive Director Donald Fehr. Associate General Counsel Gene Orza. Player representatives Sandy Alomar Jr., Ricky Bottalico, Brett Butler, David Cone, Jim Corsi, Mark Dewey, Shawn Green, Brian Johnson, Al Leiter, Al Martin, Dennis Martinez, Derrick May, Brian McRae, Jeff Montgomery, Hal Morris, Lyle Mouton, C.J. Nitkowski, Jim Poole, B.J. Surhoff, Walt Weiss, Dan Wilson.
Term: 1997 – Oct. 31, 2000 (Oct. 31, 2001, with exercise of MLB Players Association option.
Free Agency: Eligibility remains at six years of Major League service time, unchanged from the 1990-1993 CBA.
Salary Arbitration: Eligibility unchanged from the 1990-1993 CBA. Any player with three years of service and less than six years of service may file. The top 17 percent of players with two-plus years of service also qualify as Super Two players.
Minimum Salary: The minimum salary is increased to $150,000 for 1997, $170,000 for 1998, and $200,000 for 1999, 2000 and 2001.
Schedule: The agreement institutes inter-league play, with American League teams playing regular-season game against National League teams for the first time.
Revenue Sharing: Revenue-sharing provisions will transfer about $40 million on a “split pool” basis from richer clubs to poorer clubs in 1996 and 1997, with the amount increasing in succeeding years.
Competitive Balance Tax: A competitive balance or luxury tax will be levied upon the five highest-payroll teams from 1997 to 1999.
Pension: Owners agree to increase their contributions to the players’ pension fund, including $70 million in 2002.
2 years (1995-96)
- Aug. 12, 1994 – Players strike after beginning the 1994 season without a labor agreement in place.
- Sept. 14, 1994 – acting Commissioner Bud Selig cancels remainder of 1994 season, including playoffs and World Series.
- Dec. 6, 1994 – Owners’ lead negotiator Richard Ravitch resigns.
- Dec. 14, 1994 – Negotiations led by federal mediator Bill Usery break down.
- Dec. 23, 1994 – Owners unilaterally implement a salary cap system.
- Jan. 5, 1995 – In wake of owners’ decision to implement rules unilaterally, MLBPA Executive Director Donald Fehr declares all 895 unsigned players to be free agents.
- Jan. 13, 1995 – Owners’ executive council approves use of replacement players.
- Feb. 11, 1995 – Owners withdraw the salary cap system but unilaterally eliminate some elements of the expired 1990-1993 labor agreement, including salary arbitration, individual bargaining between clubs and players and the anti-collusion provisions of free-agency rules.
- March 27, 1995 – National Labor Relations Board files a complaint in federal court charging that the owners had not bargained in good faith when they unilaterally implemented rules altering the previous Basic Agreement.
- April 2, 1995 – Players end strike and return to work without a new collective bargaining agreement after federal judge Sonia Sotomayor issues an injunction restoring the terms of the expired 1990-1993 CBA.
- April 27, 1995 – Opening Day for 144-game 1995 schedule.
Major League Baseball: acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig. Player Relations Committee chiefs Richard Ravitch (through Dec. 6, 1994) and Randy Levine.
MLB Players Association: Executive Director Donald Fehr. Associate General Counsel Gene Orza. Player representatives David Cone (AL), Tom Glavine (NL).
Term: Rules of expired 1990-1993 Collective Bargaining Agreement restored for 1995 and 1996 seasons.
Free Agency: Free agency provisions from the 1990-1993 CBA are reinstated for 1995-1996. A club wishing to retain negotiating rights with a player becoming a free agent must offer him salary arbitration. The player has until May 15 to accept or reject an offer of salary arbitration from his former club. Players and owners agree to a one-time exception allowing a club to continue negotiating with a free agent who rejects an offer of salary arbitration. Union officials open a training camp for unsigned free agents in Homestead, Florida, where clubs may scout players before signing them.
Salary Arbitration: Arbitration provisions from the 1990-1993 agreement are reinstated for 1995-1996. Players may file for arbitration from April 12 to April 14. Players and clubs exchange salary figures April 28, with hearings to follow as soon as possible. Unsigned players who were offered arbitration are paid at the club’s offer until their cases are heard. Players who win in arbitration receive back pay with interest.
Service Time: Players are credited with service time for the strike. Players sent to the minors between July 28, 1994 (the day the strike date was announced) and the beginning of the strike may buy back the service time for the remainder of the 1994 season by returning the minor-league salaries they received during the strike. (Sixty of the 70 players in this group did so.) The union agreed not to take any legal action against the owners for unfair labor practices during the strike. The deadline for free agents to accept or reject offers of salary arbitration from their former clubs was delayed from December 19 to January 2.
Rosters: Clubs are permitted to have 28 players (3 more than usual) on their active rosters through May 15, 1995.
Pro-ration of Salaries: Rather than being paid based on the number of days in the season, players will be paid based on the number of games. Under the 144-game schedule, players lose 11.11 percent of their salaries.
Minimum Salary: The minimum salary remains $109,000 for 1995 and increases to $122,667 for 1996.
4 years (1990-93)
- 1988-1990 – Players charge that Commissioner Peter Ueberroth and the 26 clubs violated the Basic Agreement by conspiring to limit competitive bidding for free agents after the 1985, 1986 and 1987 seasons (Collusion I, II and III). In each of the three cases, arbitrators rule that the owners violated the CBA, putting damages at a total of more than $100 million.
- March 18, 1990 – After a 32-day lockout (Feb. 15-March 20), owners and players agree on a labor contract expanding arbitration eligibility and increasing minimum salaries and the owners’ annual pension contribution.
- November, 1990 – Owners settle all three collusion cases for a total of $280 million, with the union determining how to distribute the money to the players who had suffered damages. Commissioner Fay Vincent later writes that owners approved plans for expansion to Florida and Colorado in 1993 in order to pay off debt from the collusion decisions.
Major League Baseball: MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent (Sept. 13, 1989 – Sept. 7, 1992). Deputy Commissioner Steve Greenberg. Player Relations Committee chairman Bud Selig. PRC chief negotiator Charles O’Connor. AL President Bobby Brown. NL President Bill White.
MLB Players Association: Executive Director Donald Fehr. General Counsel Gene Orza. Special assistant to the executive director Mark Belanger. Player representatives David Cone, Jim Deshaies.
Term: 1990 – Dec. 31, 1993. Either side may terminate after third year, 1992.
Free Agency: Players remain eligible for free agency after six years of service. The owners had proposed a “partnership” with the players committing 48 percent of all MLB gate and network and local broadcast revenues to players’ salaries and the players’ pension plan. In exchange, the owners’ proposal required the players to agree to a maximum and minimum salary cap and a “play for performance” system to replace salary arbitration. The players refuse.
Free Agent Compensation: A club that loses a free agent is awarded draft-choice compensation only if the club offers the player salary arbitration.
Salary Arbitration: A player must have completed three years of service to be granted salary arbitration eligibility, but the top 17 percent of players with at least two years of experience also are eligible, beginning in 1991.
Minimum Salary: The minimum salary is increased to $100,000 for 1990 and 1991, and $109,000 for 1992 and 1993.
Schedule: Opening Day delayed until April 9.
Rosters: Clubs may have 28 players (three more than usual) on their active rosters through May 15, 1990.
Pension: Owners increase their contribution to the players’ pension fund to $55 million annually.
4 years (1985-89)
Aug. 7, 1985 – After a 2-day strike, players and owners reach a labor agreement altering salary arbitration and free-agent compensation provisions. Canceled games are rescheduled as doubleheaders or on open dates.
Major League Baseball: MLB Commissioner Peter Ueberroth. Chief, Player Relations Committee Lee MacPhail. Counsel Barry Rona.
MLB Players Association: Acting Director Donald Fehr (replacing Ken Moffett, who served as the executive director from December, 1982, to November, 1983). Associate General Counsel Gene Orza. Special assistant to the executive director Mark Belanger.
Term: 1985 – Dec. 31, 1989.
Free Agency: Owners and players eliminate the free-agent draft, allowing free agents to negotiate with all clubs. A club wishing to retain negotiating rights to a free agent must agree to allow him to go to salary arbitration the following February, if the player wishes.
Free Agent Compensation: The new agreement eliminates professional-player compensation for clubs losing free agents. Compensation remains in the form of amateur draft selections.
Salary Cap: Owners drop their proposal of an average payroll plan which would serve as a salary cap. Owners also drop proposal to cap salary arbitration awards.
Salary Arbitration: At the urging of Commissioner Ueberroth, service time required to be eligible for salary arbitration increases from two years to three years, beginning in 1987. Owners drop their attempt to cap salary arbitration awards to 100 percent over the previous year’s salary.
Service Time: Players are credited with service time for period during the Aug. 6-7 strike.
Pro-ration of Salaries: Players receive a full day of pay for games rescheduled on open dates. Players receive half a day of pay for games rescheduled as part of a doubleheader.
Drug Testing: In 1983, owners and players launch a joint committee to study guidelines for dealing with players who commit drug or alcohol offenses. Players’ union counsel Donald Fehr and special assistant to the executive director Mark Belanger oppose union involvement in discipline of players, preferring that the union retain the right to contest any management action through the grievance procedure. Moffett’s support of the joint committee’s work reportedly leads to his eventual dismissal as the union’s executive director. Marvin Miller briefly returns to the post on an interim basis, before Fehr is named the union’s acting director. In May, 1984, owners and players agree to create an independent committee to determine whether a player has a drug or alcohol problem, and if so, how to handle it. The union retains the right to challenge any resulting disciplinary action.
Minimum Salary: The minimum salary is increased to $60,000 for 1986, with cost-of-living adjustments in subsequent seasons. The minimum is $62,500 for 1987 and 1988, and $68,000 for 1989.
Winners’ Shares: The players receive a larger cut of the World Series pool.
Schedule: Owners, players agree to keep the League Championship Series at seven games for the duration of the agreement.
Pension: Owners agree to contribute $33 million annually to the benefit plan from 1985 through 1988, with an increase to $39 million in 1989. The owners also agree to retroactively increase their $15.5 million contributions for 1984 and 1985 to $25 million and $33 million, respectively (increases of $9.5 million in 1984 and $17.5 million in 1985). Over six years, the owners will contribute a total of $196 million, about 18 percent of the newly signed $1.1 billion television contract. (Under previous agreements, the players had received a share of about one-third of the national television revenue.) The players originally demanded annual contributions of $60 million, then offered to reduce the demand to $40 million, with the difference going to low-revenue clubs playing in the smallest markets. The owners rejected that plan.
4 years (1980-83) / 4 years (1981-84)
- May 23, 1980 – After an 8-day players’ strike at the end of spring training, owners and players reach a preliminary four-year agreement in the early-morning hours of the players’ May 23 strike date. The agreement allows the issue of free agency to be reopened the following season.
- July 7, 1980 – Players ratify new agreement.
- Feb. 21, 1981 – Players’ executive board votes to set strike date of May 29, a date later extended to June 12.
- June 12, 1981 – Players strike.
- July 31, 1981 – After a 50-day players’ strike, owners and players reach agreement settling free agent compensation issue. MLB cancels 712 games and splits the 1981 season into two halves.
- Aug. 2, 1981 – Players’ executive board unanimously approves new agreement.
Major League Baseball: MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. Executive Director, Player Relations Committee Ray Grebey. Baltimore Orioles owner Edward Bennett Williams. Houston Astros owner John McMullen.
MLB Players Association: Executive Director Marvin Miller. General Counsel Richard Moss. Counsel Donald Fehr.
Federal labor mediator Ken Moffett.
Term: 1980 – Dec. 31, 1983 (extended to Dec. 31, 1984). In exchange for receiving credit for service time while out on strike, the players agreed to extend the both the collective bargaining and pension agreements for one additional year. The pension agreement is extended from March 31, 1984, to March 31, 1985.
Free Agency: Eligibility for free agency remains at six years of Major League service time.
Free Agent Compensation: Owners and players form a committee composed of two players (Sal Bando and Bob Boone) and two management representatives (Frank Cashen and Harry Dalton) to study free-agent compensation and prepare a report by Jan. 1, 1981. If the changes are recommended and the players and owners agree on them, the changes become part of the Basic Agreement. If the two sides cannot reach an agreement, the owners have the right to implement their compensation proposal unilaterally between February 15 and 20, 1981. If owners take that step, the players have the right to reopen the basic agreement on that issue and strike by June 1, 1981, provided they have given the owners notice of a strike date by March 1, 1981. If the players choose not to strike at that time, they forfeit their right to strike for the duration of the agreement (until after the 1983 season).
Under the agreement settling the 1981 strike, clubs losing ranking free agents receive professional players as compensation as well as an amateur draft choice. A player pool is formed to compensate teams losing free agents. No more than five teams can claim exclusion status for a three-year period, provided they don’t select or sign a Type A free agent. The other clubs are allowed to protect 24 (if they lost a Type A) or 26 players in their organizations. No team can lose more than one player from the pool each year.
Players are ranked by statistical comparisons by position. Players ranking in the top 20 percent at his position are classified as Type A. Players ranking in the top 21-30 percent are classified as Type B. Compensation for a Type A will be a selection from the pool in addition to an amateur draft choice. Compensation for a Type B will be two amateur draft choices. Remaining compensation will be in the form of an amateur draft choice.
Salary Arbitration: Players with two years of service remain eligible for salary arbitration.
Minimum Salary: The minimum salary is increased to $30,000 for 1980, $32,500 for 1981, $33,500 in 1982, and $35,000 for 1983. As part of the 1981 settlement, the minimum salary for 1984 is set at $40,000. Minimum salaries also are established for exceptional cases, such as a player demoted to the minor leagues.
Right to Demand Trade: As under the 1976-1979 agreement, a player with at least five years of service may demand that his club trade him. He must submit the request in writing during the 15-day period between October 15 or the end of the World Series, whichever is later. In addition, the player has a right to veto trades to six clubs. If his club does not arrange a trade by March 15, the player becomes a free agent.
Pension: Owners increase their contribution to the players’ pension fund to $15.5 million annually from 1980 to 1983, which also increases life insurance coverage for active players. Under the settlement ending the 1981 strike, the pension contribution for 1984 will be determined in the next round of negotiations and applied retroactively.
3 years (1976-79)
- Dec. 23, 1975 – Arbitrator Peter Seitz rules that the Reserve Clause in each player contract binds the player to his club for only one year, not indefinitely. The decision grants free agency to pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally, who had played the 1975 season without signing contracts.
- Feb. 4, 1976 – Seitz decision is upheld in federal district court.
- March 1-17, 1976 – Owners order spring training lockout, which lasts 17 days. Unwilling to delay the start of the season, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn orders training camps open March 18. Players agree to open the 1976 season without a collective bargaining agreement in place, and no games are canceled.
- March 10, 1976 – Federal appeals court in St. Louis upholds the Seitz decision, making Messersmith and McNally free agents.
- June 16, 1976 – Citing his power to act in the “best interests of baseball” under the Major League Agreement, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn voids Oakland owner Charlie Finley’s sales of Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers to the Boston Red Sox and Vida Blue to the New York Yankees.
- July 12, 1976 – Owners, players agree on four-year labor deal giving players freedom of movement for the first time through free agency. Marvin Miller announces ratification by the players in an Aug. 2, 1976, appearance before a House committee.
Major League Baseball: MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. MLB counsel John Gaherin. AL President Lee MacPhail. NL President Chub Feeney. Player Relations Committee counsel Barry Rona.
MLB Players Association: Executive Director Marvin Miller. General Counsel Richard Moss.
Term: 1976 – Dec. 31, 1979.
Free Agency: Players qualify for free agency after six years of service. Players whose 1976 contracts were unilaterally renewed (not signed by the player) become free agents after the season. (This group consists of 39 players, including Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, Ken Holtzman, Fred Lynn and Rollie Fingers.) Players with unsigned contracts for 1977 will become free agents after the 1977 season. Players with multi-year contracts may become free agents at the end of the next regular season, if they choose not to sign. A player entering the free-agent pool may negotiate with no more than 12 clubs (13 in 1977), which must have acquired the right to negotiate with him by selecting him in the re-entry draft. Clubs are limited in the number of free agents they may sign, based on the number of players in the free agent pool. However, a club may sign as many free agents as it loses in any one season.
Free Agent Compensation: A club losing a free agent is entitled to draft-choice compensation from the signing club. If the signing club finished in the top 12 of baseball’s 24 clubs, the signing club loses its first draft choice to the club losing the free agent. If the signing club finished in the bottom 12 clubs, the signing club loses its second draft choice to the club losing the free agent.
Right to Demand Trade: A player with at least five years of service may demand that his club trade him. He must submit the request in writing during the 15-day period between October 15 or the end of the World Series, whichever is later. In addition, the player has a right to veto trades to six clubs. If his club does not arrange a trade by March 15, the player becomes a free agent.
Salary Arbitration: As in the 1973-75 agreement, players with at least two years of service are eligible to submit their salaries for arbitration. If a player is eligible for free agency, his salary dispute may go to arbitration only upon mutual consent by player and club.
Minimum Salary: The minimum salary is increased to $19,000 for 1976 and 1977, and $21,000 for 1978 and 1979. The increase is retroactive for the 1976 season.
Pension: Owners increase their contribution to the players’ pension fund to $8.3 million, an annual increase of $1.85 million.
3 years (1973-75)
Feb. 25, 1973 – After a 17-day spring training lockout, owners and players agree on a three-year contract establishing salary arbitration and incorporating terms of the players’ pension plan. In the wake of the 1972 Supreme Court decision upholding MLB’s antitrust exemption, the players choose to negotiate an agreement that does not address the free agency issue. No games are canceled.
On Feb. 28, player representatives vote 22-0 to ratify the agreement. Representatives from two clubs were absent.
Major League Baseball: MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. Counsel John Gaherin. Milwaukee Brewers owner Ed Fitzgerald, chief of Player Relations Committee.
MLB Players Association: Executive Director Marvin Miller. General Counsel Richard Moss. Player representatives Reggie Jackson, Brooks Robinson.
Term: 1973 – Dec. 31, 1975.
Minimum Salary: The minimum salary is increased to $15,000 for 1973 and 1974, and $16,000 for 1975.
Salary Arbitration: Beginning with the 1973-74 off-season, an arbitration procedure is established to resolving salary disputes between owners and players. Players with at least two years of service are eligible to submit their salaries for arbitration, with no limit on the number of times a player may do so. The arbitration period runs from Feb. 1 to 11, when 14 judges are available to hear cases, choosing either the figure submitted by the club or the figure submitted by the player. Owners provide 1973 salary information to arbitrators but refuse to provide the same information to the players’ union. The union files a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, then collects its own clearinghouse of salary information from its members.
Tender Deadline: The deadline for teams to offer unsigned players contracts for the following season is moved from Jan. 15 to Dec. 20.
Ten-and-Five Rule: Any player with at least 10 years of Major League service and at least five years with the same club may not be traded or sold without his consent.
Assignments: A player with at least five years of Major League service may not be assigned to the minor leagues without his consent.
Pay Cuts: Maximum pay cuts of 20 percent in one season and 30 percent over two seasons remain in effect.
Winners’ Shares: The minimum World Series share is increased from $15,000 to $20,000.
Expense Money: Weekly Spring Training stipend increases from $55 to $67. Spring Training daily meal money stipends increase from $15.50 to $16. In-season daily meal money stipends increase from $18.50 to $19.
Pension: Owners increase their contribution to the players’ pension fund to $6.15 million for 1973, $6.15 million in 1974 and $6.45 million in 1975.
3 years (1970-72)
May 23, 1970 – Owners, players agree on a three-year contract. Players again seek an increase in the minimum salary, the right to binding impartial arbitration for labor disputes and input into workplace-related changes, such as scheduling. During the agreement (April 1-13, 1972), players vote to strike over dispute regarding financing of the pension plan. MLB cancels 86 games, and teams play schedules of 154-156 games in 1972.
Major League Baseball: MLB Commissioner Bowie Kuhn. Player Relations Committee John Gaherin (chief), AL President Joe Cronin, NL President Chub Feeney.
MLB Players Association: Executive Director Marvin Miller, General Counsel Richard Moss. Player representatives Jack Aker, Maury Wills, Joe Torre, Milt Pappas, Sam McDowell, Willie Mays.
Term: 1970 – Dec. 31, 1972. The new basic agreement covers the 1970, 1971 and 1972 seasons. All provisions, including new Spring Training payments, are retroactive to the beginning of 1970.
Minimum Salary: The minimum salary increases to $12,000 for 1970, $12,750 for 1971, and $13,500 for 1972.
Reserve Clause: The Reserve Clause issue is tabled until Curt Flood’s antitrust lawsuit is resolved by the courts. Once Flood’s case ends, the issue may be re-opened for negotiation between playing seasons.
Arbitration: The arbitration procedure is altered, with an impartial arbitrator handling “nuts and bolts” labor grievances which do not involve “integrity of the game” issues. The commissioner retains his role as final arbiter, after formal hearing, in cases involving “integrity” or “public confidence” in the game. The commissioner had previously been the court of last resort in settling virtually any differences.
Pay Cuts: The maximum salary cut allowed remains 20 percent from the previous year’s salary. The new agreement adds an additional requirement: No player may have his salary cut by more than 30 percent over two years.
Severance Pay: The agreement expands the number of players entitled to severance pay, with players released during Spring Training receiving 30 days’ pay (a first), players released after Opening Day receiving 60 days’ pay (one-third of their salary), and players released after May 15 receiving full salaries for the year.
Right to Representation: Owners recognize the right of players to hire an agent for contract/salary negotiations with management.
Tender Deadline: The deadline for teams to offer contracts for the following season to unsigned players is January 15.
Winners’ Shares: Owners agree to increase by $250,000 the pool of money paid to players for their clubs’ place in the standings and post-season performance. (Players receive money for finishing first, second or third in their division, as well as advancing to or winning the World Series.)
Operational Rules: The 1970 agreement prevents changes in baseball’s operational rules, such as waivers, options or scheduling, without prior negotiation and agreement with the union. Previously, owners could make changes regarding player benefits unilaterally.
Expense Money: The agreement increases amounts of weekly stipend during Spring Training and daily meal money in-season.
Schedule: Start time for “getaway” games moved from 6 p.m. to 5 p.m., when a club has a game in another city the next day. The 162-game schedule remains, however. (Players had lobbied for a return to a 154-game schedule.)
Pension: With the pension agreement expiring March 31, 1972, players again seek an increase in contributions from management. (The benefits fund is financed by a $5.45M allotment from national television revenues from the World Series.) Players vote to strike April 1 over the financing of the pension plan, arguing that the plan’s $900,000 surplus should distributed to qualified players. MLB cancels 86 games. After a 13-day strike, the owners agree to increase their contribution by $500,000 annually, to $5.95 million. The canceled games are not rescheduled, and teams play 154-156 games in 1972, with division titles decided on a strict percentage basis. The players are not paid for the time spent out on strike.
2 years (1968-69)
Feb. 28, 1968 – Owners and players reach the first collective bargaining agreement in professional sports history and the first to provide for a minimum Major League salary. The Basic Agreement limits the power of owners to unilaterally establish or change rules governing the industry, requiring most changes to be agreed upon by owners and players as a result of collective bargaining. The agreement includes a Uniform Player Contract and establishes the first formal grievance procedure for settling labor disputes.
Major League Baseball: MLB Commissioner William Eckert. Counsel John Gaherin. Player Relations Committee: AL President Joe Cronin (PRC chief), NL President Warren Giles, MLB attorney Bowie Kuhn, NY Mets’ Bing Devine, St. Louis’ Dick Meyer, Boston’s Tom Yawkey and Baltimore’s Jerry Hoffberger.
MLB Players Association: Executive Director Marvin Miller. General Counsel Richard Moss. Player representatives Tim McCarver, Joe Torre, Roberto Clemente, Jack Fisher, Steve Hamilton, Don Drysdale, Bill Freehan, Jim Bunning, Jim Pagliaroni.
Term: April 6, 1968 – April 5, 1970
Minimum Salary: The Major League minimum salary is increased from $6,000 to $10,000 for 1968 and 1969.
Reserve Clause: Owners, players agree to form a study group on changes to the Reserve Clause binding players to clubs indefinitely.
Arbitration: A grievance arbitration procedure is put in place for labor disputes. The final arbiter is the Commissioner.
Pay Cuts: The maximum salary cut allowed is reduced from 25 to 20 percent.
Severance Pay: Released players are entitled to 30 days’ pay.
Expense Money: Weekly stipend for players during spring training is increased to $40 (from $25, where it had stood since 1947.)
Meal Money: The daily in-season allowance is increased from $12 to $15.
Schedule: Owners and players agree to form a committee to study the possibility of returning to a 154-game schedule.
Travel: First-class travel and hotel accommodations required.
Pension: The first pension plan negotiated by Miller is to expire March 1969. That plan called for owners to contribute $4.1 million annually from national TV revenues from the World Series. Players needed five years of service to qualify. Miller argues that the owners’ contribution should increase, given baseball’s 1969 expansion by four clubs, and should keep pace with MLB’s increasing television revenue. As leverage in negotiations, he urged players not to report to spring training and not to sign contracts for 1969. At the urging of newly elected Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, owners ultimately agree to increase their annual contribution to $5.45 million annually and to reduce the time required to qualify from five years to four. The agreement on pensions runs through March 31, 1972.